Over the last fifty years, Switzerland has lacked the profuse number of artisan bicycle manufacturers enjoyed by Italy and France, but Cilo was one who truly embodied the Swiss personality. This frame was unearthed by Chris Raia at a swap meet two years ago, he performed a sympathetic restoration upon it, which turned it into, possibly, the finest existing example of the Swiss marque.
Due to the lack of shifting braze-ons, Chris was about to convert it to a single speed but decided instead to use it as a tutorial in 1960s bicycles and their components:
“Stefan at Speedcycles did extensive research for me but couldn’t locate any info on its original build. However, I did find one other example on the internet of a 1960s Cilo in period dress. I replicated the build – Campagnolo NR, GS, and Universal centerpulls, and even the bottle and cage.”
First off, Chris had the fork re-chromed, but it wasn’t an auspicious start to the process: “That effort took 6 months, a call to the Fall River MA police department, and two site visits with a couple guys dressed in studded leather jackets to get the thing back.”
Chris painted the frame himself, having picked up those valuable skills helping his dad rejuvenate the bodywork on his vintage sports cars. “The headbadge was the final touch. It came from Austria and cost me a lot more than I care to remember paying!”
“Since the frame itself was a restoration, I decided to restore parts too, instead of going NOS on everything. I am pretty good with a polishing wheel, so I stripped and wheeled out many of the parts to a mirror finish.”
“I made the leather bar wraps and hoods using Adobe Illustrator and a laser cutter at the shop where I work. That was probably the most fun of the whole job.”
‘Cilo’ is an acronym for Charles Jan Lausanne-Oron — the ‘J’ being substituted for an ‘i’ to aid French pronunciation. The Cilo factory was located on the shores of Lake Geneva in the Vaud canton. After sponsoring a small number of pro teams, including one with Atari, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2002. Thankfully, Chris Raia’s Cilo will continue to roll, upholding the Swiss name.